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In Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese, grabs hold of a reader’s attention and keep it, with a narrator whose story begs the question: How much can we control the events in our lives and fates? Humans are united by experiences that link us together; life, death, love, loss, struggles and pain. Similarly, they want to believe that they have an influence over their own decisions-that they make their own fate. Protagonist narrator, Marion Stone’s, life shifts from past to present through a series of flashbacks that eventually come together to explain the ways in which a life can be shaped by the human plight but also by our own decisions. From the start of Marion’s life story, the reader is asked to consider the way things a person cannot control impact his or her life. Marion tries to piece together the circumstances preceding from and resulting in the births of him and his twin brother, Shiva. The reader is drawn in by the love, life, death, and deep loss, which enter into the lives of the twins before they can choose their own paths. Questions about how these events will impact the future for the children lead the reader to consider the broader implications of Marion and Shiva’s struggles. The reader is left wondering: Do people have the freedom to alter their futures despite the cards they have been dealt? As the the twins grow and make choices, and the reader is introduced to more histories and present events which fuse to weave the fates of Marion and Shiva. The reader watches as the events of their lives shift from little control over their situation to more decision-making. Through the lens of everyday experiences and family, explanations about where and how the boy’s lives are molded become clear: they follow in the footsteps of their parents to practice medicine, they empathize with the people of Addis Ababa who are poor and suffering, their family is torn apart by the inevitable uprising of the people against corrupt governments, they learn about cultural practices of native Ethiopians. The reader maintains hope that forces out of their control do not have too great an impact on their futures, on all human futures. But, the older they become, it is obvious that their lives are a tangled web of outside forces and their own decisions. The author implies that for all people, the two are twisted together and permanently merged with time. Verghese is successful in his authoring of Cutting for Stone; because, people enjoy reading about global subjects and experiences . Questions about the human plight and people’s ability to change their circumstances through force of will are universal. Marion’s story is captivating, because we want to see someone persevere, to beat human fate, which will inevitably lead to suffering. Even when we know this cannot happen, we still read stories hoping it will. Star Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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